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Review: Uma Thurman caper comedy ‘The Con Is On’ loses its fizz as it goes

Uma Thurman in the movie "The Con Is On."
(Lionsgate)

“The Con Is On” takes off like a shot: a stylish caper with enjoyably wry, martini-soaked dialogue and a terrific comedic turn by Uma Thurman as a glamorous British scam artist.

Then there’s the film’s second half — which sinks like a stone. That’s too bad since director James Haslam, who co-wrote with Alex Michaelides, had all the makings here of the kind of sexy, breezy crime farce in short supply these days.

Thurman, working a posh accent and acres of attitude, plays slinky swindler Harriet, who, along with equally shady, boozehound hubby Peter (Tim Roth), flies to Los Angeles to steal a priceless jewel from Peter’s actress ex-wife, Jackie (Alice Eve). The goal: to repay Harriet’s huge gambling debt to a ruthless mobster (Maggie Q).

But what begins as a seemingly simple heist loses steam and focus amid a pileup of Hollywood-style nuts and narcissists who divert Harriet and an increasingly blotto Peter. These over-the-top folks include Jackie, her volatile filmmaker fiancé (Crispin Glover), his unstable assistant (Parker Posey) and rapacious leading lady (Sofia Vergara), and a double-dealing gay priest (Stephen Fry).

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A funny bit in which Harriet poses as a dog whisperer is one of many moments in which the game Thurman makes you wish there were far more pros to this “Con.”

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‘The Con Is On’

Rating: R, for language throughout, drug and alcohol use, some sexual content and violence

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD

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